Good Versus Evil
There is a war of good and evil unfolding every day within a writer’s mind. Picture the opening scene from a James Bond film, only our secret agent is the writer. She skis down an impossibly steep slope as enemy agents blast away with automatic rifles and handguns. Grenades detonate with thundering force, forcing our writer to swerve erratically. She slips away from the pack of bikes crunching snow under their spiked tires. Wait. That’s not what goes on in your mind? You may not realize it, but this sort of life or death action does occur within the writer, only without so many bullets and explosions.
Every writer wants to write. That’s what the suffix –er means, a person who writes. Yet why is it that so many writers start a manuscript only to never finish? At every turn, a writer faces evil plots designed to halt writing and stymie completion. Every writer is a secret agent in his or her own brain. So let’s examine the evil forces arrayed against us.
Doubt is the number one enemy of the writer. It tells you that what you’re doing is a waste of time. Your writing will never be as good as the professionals, so why even start?
Now think of yourself as James Bond. Yes, his missions are exciting and non-stop action. But what about the down time? Every second of his life isn’t filled with double crosses and car chases. Neither should your writing life. Most of writing is toiling day in and day out. This is like the regular training a secret agent goes through so she can be ready when the real fight comes.
Think about it: how could training be “not good enough” for any writer. It’s just practice. The secret is to write on a regular schedule. Even if what you write doesn’t make it into the final project, it’s the training and practice that will defeat the doubt.
Have you ever rewritten your first chapter? And then written again, and again? You’ve created a never-ending loop of revision. It’s as if the you won’t settle until perfection is attained. This is just another trap set to snare you.
Think about the chase scenes where James Bond narrowly escapes with his life. Those are messy. Mr. Bond might have had a plan going into the fray, but he has to adapt along the way. Make split decisions to save his neck. Once the bridge behind him blows up, there’s no going back.
If you find the desire to revise chapters constantly, then push yourself onward. There’s time for revision after your first draft. Need more of a push? Then imagine bombs exploding behind you. You have to complete this next chapter and upload it to the UN or a world-scale disaster will occur.
You’re twenty thousand words into your latest endeavor and the excitement of the writing starts to wane. Or you’ve hit a rough patch and are not sure where to go. Suddenly ideas for other stories or novels pop up all around you. They’re brilliant and exciting. A writer needs passion right? So you switch, abandoning the manuscript that’s giving you trouble for a fresh start.
Only what will happen when you run aground on this new project? It turns into the literary version of musical chairs. You constantly switch projects, never seeing any of them through to completion.
Think about the James Bond film franchise for a moment. Some of those movies are amazing, worth watching over and over. And a few of them you can barely sit through. Here’s the thing. All those movies are complete. Even the duller ones have a beginning, middle and end. The legacy of James Bond wouldn’t have been so grand if he had only three or four films. No there are 24 complete films.
Stick with your project and see it through till the end. You don’t see Mr. Bond give up mid action sequence to switch to a more exciting one, do you?
Did you know that your couch has a magnetic pull? Yes it does. It can suck writers in and never let them get up. It seems that way sometimes, doesn’t it? The hardest force for a writer to overcome is inertia. Remember that bit of physics? Inertia states that a body a rest will stay at rest until a force acts on it. No force, no movement. And watching TV is not going to force you to do anything.
This is the worst villain of all. Inertia pins us down and won’t let go. The longer you go without writing, the harder it is to start. It’s like an addiction to laziness. Yet Inertia has a flip side that states: an object in motion will stay in motion. So once you get started, really started writing, then you can keep it up.
Remember our secret agent? Mr. Bond never stays in one place too long. He’s always moving on to new missions and exotic locales.
Here’s what you need to do to beat inertia. Write. It doesn’t matter what. A blog post, a letter, a recipe. Just get your butt off the couch and over to the computer. Create a new habit of writing each day. Soon inertia will take over and you’ll expect to write during these times rather than veg out.
Don’t succumb to the forces of evil. The world needs you to complete the mission and you can only do that through writing. Remember, just like the James Bond franchise, the threats to your writing never cease. Always be vigilant. Only after the mission can you relax with your signature martini. But only for a moment. A new writing mission is always around the corner.
Tim Kane is the author of Tarot: The Magician (Midnight Frost Books, 2014) and The Changing Vampire of Film and Television (MacFarlane, 2006). He grew up in Southern California watching Toho movies and reading H.G. Wells. He has not lost faith in the sanity of the world. He studied writing as the University of California San Diego and has amused readers with many short stories. He lives and teaches in Chula Vista, California, with his spectacular wife, daughter, and a dog that stands upside down. He enjoys traveling to the dark places of his mind and bringing back souvenirs. He hopes you have enjoyed this brief tour of his life.